PBS Runs Banner Ads

It’s October 1 and the new PBS online ad deal kicks in. Throughout PBS.org one will experience more interactive ads (they call it “sponsorship banners”). There aren’t many yet–one a pitch for the Christian Children’s Fund on the “Home & Hobbies” page. There are also promos for its ad partner Google: a number of pages promote PBS programs available via video.google.com. The site still contains Google-operated “sponsored links,” including from the Pottery Barn, the College of Body Arts, and Culinary Art Schools. Our favorite for the moment is the “Lose 20 Lbs in 3 Weeks: Amazing Chinese fat-loss secret. As seen on Oprah & 60 Minutes.” As we noted before, PBS should not be engaged in interactive advertising–on its website or via other digital platforms. We recommend the recent analysis of the PBS ombudsman on the issue here. Eventually, the ad money–and relationships with powerful corporations such as Google–will affect programming decisions. Best to foresake it now. But a Google, Microsoft and others should donate considerable sums to a public telecommunications trust–a bank account to ensure that non-profit public service programming can be produced regardless of who controls the Hill or White House. Or whether we have to click on the ad for weight control.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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